Earlier this month, rapist Brock Turner and his lawyer, Eric Multhaup, took to a San Jose appeals court to argue against Turner's 2016 conviction. After sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and faced up to 14 years in prison but, in a notoriously light sentence, was only given six months. Turner served three of those six months and was released in September 2016, ABC News reported. Now, Multhaup is trying to specifically overturn one of the charges—assault with intent to commit rape—because he says that Turner didn’t want intercourse. He just wanted “outercourse.”
Confused? It’s not just you. “I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about,” Justice D. Elia said in court.
“Outercourse” as defined by Multhaup is a “version of safe sex” without “penile contact,” reports Palo Alto Online. Multhaup went on to say that because Turner was fully clothed when he was found “thrusting” the unconscious, anonymous woman known publicly as Emily Doe, he was not necessarily intending to rape her. Elia rejected this reasoning, and noted that exposure is not required to prove intent of rape.
Turner already served his very short sentence; what he’s trying to overturn now is his status as a registered Tier 3 sex offender for life, meaning new neighbors will be notified when he moves to their area and that he will have to reregister at his local sheriff’s office every 90 days, reports The Mercury News.
This newest argument comes after a string of others. Turner blamed alcohol and “drinking culture.” He claimed that his survivor consented, even though she was passed out behind a dumpster when he was found on top of her unconscious body. And, of course, there was his father’s gross statement, that his son had paid “a steep price for 20 minutes of action.” The obvious bottom line is that it’s sickening how Turner is still refusing to take any responsibility for his actions, even after receiving a punishment so offensively lenient that the judge who gave the sentence, Aaron Persky, was recalled from the bench last June. In her powerful statement published by BuzzFeed at the time, Doe said:
“What I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence.”
One of the most damaging parts of the entire process, Doe explained, was that Turner never acknowledged his own actions as sexual assault. And he still hasn’t. Here’s the thing, though: Multhaup’s definition of “outercourse” is still sexual assault. There was still no consent; there was still force used against a passed-out, intoxicated woman, who woke up in a hospital with abrasions, lacerations, dirt, and pine needles all over her body and in her genitalia. Turner showed no signs of stopping his assault, actually, until two Swedish cyclists stopped him, yelled that Doe clearly wasn’t conscious, and chased him down the street.
With sexual assault cases, in and out of the courtroom, there’s always been a narrative of it could be worse. Roxane Gay edited a recent anthology, Not That Bad, devoted to the ways we—and the world, and our justice system—minimize our experiences with rape and sexual assault. It was just a touch. It was just a kiss. But you didn’t get killed, but you can’t remember. But it was only “outercourse.”
Brock Turner was convicted for sexual assault with intent to rape, and received, essentially, no punishment. And even if somehow, his argument were true—that he was just trying to hump Doe, just trying to ejaculate onto her, just trying to finger her and force his body onto her—he’s still a sex offender. As Maria Ruiz, the Miami nurse who started the petition calling for Persky’s removal, told The Mercury News after his initial sentence, “I don’t feel the least bit sorry for Brock Turner. People deserve to be warned that they’re living near someone who is willing to violate your body.”
And for the love of God—can news outlets stop calling him the “ex-Stanford swimmer?”
Top photo: Brock Turner's mugshot, 2016
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Lydia Wang is a writer, pug enthusiast, and hopeless romantic. She lives in New York, writes for BUST, and overshares on Twitter: @lydiaetc.